NDP Vote = Green Vote

The Conservatives don't give a rat's ass about the environment. They consistently ignore climate change, talking a weak game and doing nothing to meet their weak targets. In fact, I'm convinced that Stephen Harper is one of the many people who has decided that the overwhelming science of climate change is too inconvenient to believe.

So Monday's green vote in Canada's 41st election is about voting against the Conservatives. 

I support Linda Duncan, Ray Martin, and Lewis Cardinal to get the green vote in Edmonton's have-a-hope-in-hell-of-not-electing-a-Conversative ridings. Especially with the national NDP surge, Martin and Cardinal have a small chance, while Duncan obviously has a significant chance of winning.

In my opinion, an NDP vote is a green vote if you are in the above three ridings. In any other Alberta riding, I'm sorry but you will have a Conservative MP on Monday. Vote your conscience.

P.S. In case you haven't noticed, our first-past-the-post system is terrible. I've heard Jack Layton promise that he would push for a system of proportional representation before, so that's another hope that I have if the NDP make significant gains on Monday

A Net Zero Energy Year : February and March 2011



The above picture would actually be one of grey skies and snow if it represented March and February of 2011, but I’m not one to dwell on bad weather.

Barring a solar miracle, the Mill Creek Net Zero Home (MCNZH) will not be net zero in its energy consumption for the period of Oct 18, 2010 – Oct 17, 2011. The fact is, it was a tough winter for a passive solar house, with cold temperatures in February, and a very overcast March.  In 2010, for example, we virtually stopped heating the house by the second week of February. This year, it was April before the heaters stopped kicking in.

The results so far bring us back to some of the questions I asked when we started this little experiment. Although I have no sunshine data for this year, I’m sure that it was below average for insolation (how sunny it was). Here are some numbers on how sunny Edmonton has historically been:


The three-week period in March 2011 without a ray of sun makes me sure that we came well under these numbers this winter.

Here are the numbers for Oct 18, 2010 – March 31, 2011 (all units in kWh of electricity):

Consumption: 7333
Production: 1925

So we’re –5408 on a net basis for the year. Even though we’re just entering our prime solar production months, I don’t think we’ll cover the bet.

Here is a snapshot of the net power consumption for the months of February and March, 2011. Negative numbers represent exporting of power to the grid:



Our net energy use was higher in March than in February due to the aforementioned overcast weather.

A couple of daily snapshots:


March 28, 2011 was a terrible day for solar houses in Edmonton. The sun hadn’t shone for days, so the thermal mass in the house had lost its solar charge. The weather wasn’t that cold (low of –5, high of 0), but the heaters ran all day to keep the house heated.


On the other hand, February 25, 2011 was the kind of day that our house was built for: brutally cold (a low of –26, high of –9) but sunny. Notice how the energy use is much lower after 6pm than it was in the middle of the night. That is the residual effect of the day’s sun keeping the heating load down.

These days our PV arrays are really cranking out the juice. It will be interesting to see how close we can come to overcoming our deficit. 

Community Supported Agriculture


CSA, Edmonton region

It’s the time of year to start thinking about where your locally-grown vegetables and/or meat will be coming from this year. Edmonton-area Farmers’ Markets are wonderful sources, as well as your backyard and your community garden.

Another compelling choice is to participate in community-supported agriculture (CSA) with a local farmer. The idea is that you as a food-eating citizen invest early in the farm (in the Spring), according to some calculation that will vary depending on the CSA. You may also be asked to volunteer some time, which I imagine would be a lot of fun. Then, as the crops start to come in, you receive a share of the harvest throughout the harvesting season.

There are a few CSAs around Edmonton, and there is a great website at which to find them: www.csaalberta.com

Consider supporting Edmonton-area agriculture this year. Consider participating in community-supported agriculture.


The Mill Creek Net Zero Home: Design, Computation, and Choices for a Simple Life in a Complex Age

Software Systems April 7, 2011 11:00am - 11:50am
CSC 3-33

Conrad Nobert will tell the story of how he and his family have chosen to respond to the most urgent crises of the 21st century. From building a net zero energy house to living car-free, Conrad will discuss how their use of appropriate technology has drastically reduced their energy consumption, and how their lifestyle changes have led to more fulfillment and a simpler, less stressful life. He will also elaborate on how computer simulations using HOT 2000 software enabled the passive solar design aspects of his net zero energy house.

About the Presenter: Conrad Nobert NAIT Instructor and U of A CS Alumni Edmonton, Alberta (contact Conrad here)